I particularly wanted to attend this afternoon’s session, not only because of the Scottish report, but also because of the important debate on pension, and the contemporary motion submitted by the unions on the pension strike.
Dave Prentis of UNISON spoke movingly of the struggle many public sector workers will have either paying their increased pension contributions, or on surviving on the pensions hit by the change in uprating them in line with CPI instead of RPI. I’m not just saying that because he’s my General Secretary, though, he spoke of the desire of his members (me included) to fight for what is fair and what is right. About how thats what the matchgirls did to break the London sweatshops, the gasworkers who fought for the eight hour day, the construction workers who fought for better health and safety regulations all did.
The motions were all carried, but whether the party leadership takes any notice is another matter.
Iain Gray gave another moving speech during the Scottish report. He spoke about how the SNP’s measure of success is to be very slightly better than England. I can’t say it better than Iain himself, “Well that isn’t Labour’s benchmark. If you only aspire to be marginally better than the Tories then you shouldn’t be in politics. We should measure our success in health, in education, in crime, against the aspirations of our people and the best that we can imagine for them – not against our friends and neighbours.” Thats what Scottish Labour stands for, and its a shame we didnt manage to get that message across in May.
I attended a policy seminar after conference, on Greener Britain, and although I wont say too much about it, it was very encouraging to see that not only were the party members wanting us to do more environmentally, so were the shadow teams for DEFRA and DECC. On everything from shale gas to the badger cull, Labour will be on the right side of the argument in my view. My only disappointment was not being able to promote my idea for councils to use borrowing to fund solar panels, especially as another member had raised concerns about those in social housing not getting the benefit from feed in tarrifs.
I tried to attend a fringe event with Ed Balls, who was being interviewed by a journalist from the Independent, but the demand was too great. I think Ed could have filled the main hall with that one! I then went to a transport fringe, on a report released by the Chartered Institue of Logistics, setting out a vision for future transport. David Begg made a lot of sense, as usual, but hilarity ensued when two different members from the Stop HS2 campaign tried to trip him up, but failed!
Day Three awaits, although I might have to attend another fringe meeting to stock up on dinner.